Slutsk belt is the national treasure of Belarus. Museum of Slutsk Belts

History 2023

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Slutsk belt is the national treasure of Belarus. Museum of Slutsk Belts
Slutsk belt is the national treasure of Belarus. Museum of Slutsk Belts
Slutsk belt photo

The Slutsk belt (photo on the left) is a national treasure of Belarusians, a historical symbol and brand of the country, as well as an example of applied art of the 18th century. However, there are very few of them left in modern Belarus.

For example, belts from Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania were exhibited at the National Art Museum in Minsk for several years. So, let's remember how this art was created and what fate awaited it.

Mistake of scientists

The history of the Slutsk belts dates back to the 16th century, in the Commonwe alth. It was the then scientists who became the reason for their appearance. Historians have expressed the opinion that the gentry class comes from the ancient steppe people, which is known from the annals of the Romans and Greeks - the Sarmatians. It was this assumption that served as an impetus for the development of a new ideology in the 17th century - Sarmatism. The aristocrats liked this statement, and they began to consider themselves descendants of this steppe people, and commoners - people fromSlavs and B alts.

Since the Sarmatians were a people from the East, silk belts, which were imported from Persia and Turkey in the 18th century, became very popular with the gentry. Such a belt was considered a symbol of the we alth and power of its owner, as well as an important component of the so-called "Sarmatian" costume. Thus, it was the misconception of historians that caused the phenomenon of the Slutsk belts to appear.

Begin production

history of the Slutsk belts

In the 18th century, the gentry in the Commonwe alth accounted for about 15% of the population. Therefore, the demand for Turkish silk belts was quite large. And, as they say, demand creates supply.

Then the hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Mikhail Kazimir Radzivil put forward the idea of ​​producing fabrics according to the Turkish model in the Belarusian lands. In 1757, on his orders, a loom was secretly taken out of Turkey. However, that was only half the battle. Still needed was a master who knew how to cope with technology and knew Turkish customs. And this one was found. Hovhannes Madzharyants is a master from Istanbul, who then lived in the city of Stanislav. The people called him Jan Madzharsky. So the first Slutsk belts appeared in the Commonwe alth. The factory (manufactory) was originally located in Nesvizh, but later (in 1762) it was moved to Slutsk. There she worked the rest of the time. Hence the corresponding product name.

The pinnacle of excellence

Initially, only masters from Istanbul worked in the Slutsk manufactory. But later, local weavers also mastered the technology, and oriental ornaments andthe patterns on the belts have been replaced by local motifs.

Twenty-five years (since 1781) the tenant of the factory was Leon Madzharsky, the son of the Turkish master who laid the foundation for production on Belarusian lands. For the continuation of his father's work, as well as high successes and achievements in this field, he was awarded a state award, received the title of chamberlain and the title of gentry.

The skill of local weavers grew by leaps and bounds. So, the bilateral four-faced Slutsk belt became the highest level of production. Such a thing was very versatile: it was worn both for holidays and for mourning. According to Turkish customs, only men could become masters.

Slutsk belt

According to popular belief, if a woman's hand touched gold or silver threads, they dimmed. Therefore, women were not even allowed to come close to the loom. To master the technique of production, men underwent seven years of training. And this despite the fact that their business was only to weave. All patterns and ornaments were designed by artists separately.


The belt has become a necessary item in the wardrobe of any self-respecting aristocrat. The products of the Slutsk manufactory enjoyed great success and soon forced out their eastern competitors from the market. The profitability of the enterprise prompted neighboring countries to repeat this success.

So, the King of the Commonwe alth Stanislav August Poniatowski decided to open a weaving factory in the city of Grodno. And he asked the Radzivils for a master who could organize production. However, he wasdenied. But, despite this, the factory in Grodno opened. Slutsk belts began to be faked everywhere: from Warsaw to the French city of Lyon.

To fight against counterfeit goods, the Radzivilov factory began to label their products. So, each Slutsk belt was marked with an inscription that indicated the place of production: “Me fecit Sluciae” or “Sluck”. When the Belarusian lands were part of the Russian Empire - "In the city of Slutsk."

Slutsk belts factory

Sunset of the manufactory

But bad times have come for the Slutsk manufactory. The third division of the Commonwe alth in 1795 served as the beginning of the victorious procession of French fashion. The assortment of Slutsk belts was sharply reduced. At first they were simply hidden in chests, and then they began to donate to churches and churches altogether. Some were burned in order to obtain precious metals. One Slutsk belt contained up to one hundred grams of silver and gold.

1831 was a turning point in the history of the manufactory. After the uprising, the Russian authorities completely banned the wearing of gentry costumes, and, consequently, belts. In 1848 the factory in Slutsk was closed.

Count by units

Belarusian historian Adam Maldis calculated that during its existence the Slutsk factory produced about 5 thousand belts. And each of them is unique and unrepeatable. After the belts lost their practical use at the end of the 19th century, they became an artistic value. Both museums and private collectors began to collect them. For example, the famous and successful Russian merchant Shchukinfor two decades he hunted for them and bought them from Vilna and Warsaw antiquarians. He bequeathed his collection to the State Historical Museum. And, according to experts, it consists of 60 fragments and 80 whole belts.

There is historical evidence that in 1939, 32 belts were kept in the Nesvizh castle of the Radzivils, of which 16 were from Slutsk. The collection was transferred to the State Art Gallery of the BSSR. However, during the years of German occupation, she disappeared without a trace.

Today, only 11 belts have survived throughout Belarus, of which 5 are Slutsk, and the rest are copies made abroad. In general, it is almost impossible to name the exact number of these art objects located on the territory of Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and other countries.

how much do slutsk belts cost

Today in Slutsk

Since 2012, on behalf of the President, the State Program has been operating in Belarus, the task of which is to revive the traditions and technologies for the production of Slutsk belts.

In the place of the old manufactory there are buildings of RUE "Slutsk Belts". This enterprise was formed in 1930 as an artel that united embroiderers and weavers who were engaged in folk crafts and possessed the appropriate skills and craftsmanship. In 2011, the company celebrated its 75th anniversary. The main products manufactured at the factory are bedspreads, towels, napkins, dolls and souvenirs. All this is done by hand on special looms - "krosny".

Since 2012, the Slutsk plant began to produce copies of the Slutsk belts, as well asvarious souvenirs with their motifs (accessories for books, keys, telephones, art panels, etc.). Years of studying the secrets of weavers and the artistic features of masterpieces of the 18th century were not in vain - the company recreated a long-forgotten unique technology. So, the first Slutsk belt (photo) - an ideal copy of a historical masterpiece - was presented to the President of the Republic of Belarus. Today it decorates the Independence Palace.

Products of the "Slutsk belts" are very popular today. Here you can buy beautiful tablecloths, Belarusian towels, napkins and much more. And these are not just things, but real works of art.

Museum of Slutsk Belts

Museum of Slutsk Belts

A unique museum operates at the enterprise. There you can see with your own eyes copies and fragments of masterpieces, modern versions, as well as watch how they are made.

The Museum of the History of the Slutsk Belts includes several halls. The first zone is "Plasts of History". Here you can see how the appearance of the Slutsk belts changed in different periods of time, among different peoples.

The Slutsk Belt zone boasts an original work of art from the 18th century, as well as its copies and fragments. And in the section "Manufacture" you can get acquainted with the state of production of the XVIII century.

The hall "Fragment of the Radzivils Palace" is a recreated part of the Nesvizh castle of that time. After all, the Radzivils were representatives of one of the richest, most influential and noble Polish-Lithuanian families. Their castle was furnished with luxurious furniture, decorated with canvasesfamous artists and covered with Persian rugs. In contrast to the noble chambers in the "People's Zone", you can also see what life was like for ordinary people.

The museum has a unique machine tool developed by the German company Mageba, specifically for recreating Slutsk belts. It is controlled by two computers, contains 6 shuttles and 1200 threads. There are no analogues of such a machine in the world.

Issue price

Today Slutsk belts are being recreated using unique equipment. How much do these masterpieces cost? According to the leading artist of the factory, copies of the Slutsk belts will cost buyers from 10 to 50 million Belarusian rubles. It is from 1000 to 5000 USD.

Museum of the History of the Slutsk Belts

Not cheap, shall we say. Where does such a price come from? Even today, with the use of modern technology, it is a lot of work. It takes about 60 hours to create one belt! The process uses very thin threads of natural silk containing silver and gold. And if you increase the production speed, they can break. The final price is added up depending on the length of the belt, as well as the amount of precious metals used to sew it.

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